Sadly, I don’t have time to write at length (again) about the leaked plans to keep a database of everyone’s communications. Ironically this is becase I’m busy today running the very thing the spooks want to snoop on, the internet. My own views are on record anyway, as my first speech at LibDem conference was in favour of this amendment on the topic and I’ve blogged about it before.
Here’s a quick summary of the plans: They’re ill-conceived and illiberal. I have yet to see one good argument for the proposals as they all seem to boil down to TERRORISTS EXIST or once this morning PEDOPHILES EXIST. There is little evidence that these plans will help, as my personal experience has shown – plod came to me asking for communications information under existing legislation several months after kicking in the doors of some terrorists. No snooping, no interception warrants under existing powers, just “good old fashioned policing”.
I didn’t have the data after that long, unsurprisingly. Perhaps we could spend some of the money on currently leaked plans to train police better in dealing with online crime instead?
But I am worried, even if Mark Pack isn’t. Yet.
Not that worried, as I’m always skeptical as every time plans like these come up, it’s always “confidential briefings” and assurances from journalists that they have a “reliable source”, so we don’t really know what’s going on.
But it’s pretty obvious someone wants more power than they currently have. Did someone on “our side” leak the plans to try to kill them as Jennie suggests? If so, good on them. I don’t even mind if the LibDems take some flack for it if it means we kill it.
But they didn’t tell the rest of us and caught many off guard, which might explain the rabbit-in-headlights response from the top of the Liberal Democrat party.
Or did someone on “the other side” leak it test the waters and soften us up for what is to come in advance of the Queen’s speech? I would hope that the reaction has made them see the error of their ways, but I know that is a misplaced hope.
I’ll close with a message to anyone at or near the top of the LibDem party reading this: We’re a broad church, with people from both the left and right, so topics like the economy are bound to cause splits.
But this one shouldn’t be difficult. To make it easy, we put the clue in the name of the party: Liberal Democrats. Please let’s not go all “People’s Democratic Republic”, a code phrase for a communist dictatorship, where we dispose of ideas we like least in the title.